Posted by Admin Team on January 21, 2021
[Please note: this tribute was posted on behalf of Renée Fleming.]

Shirley played a unique role in my career and life for more than 15 years. I was introduced to so many great Chinese artists in New York, and in China, where she guided my touring, opportunities, and strategy regarding the privilege of cultural exchange. I don’t know anyone else who could persevere and encourage, but always with the most positive and enthusiastic outlook. She was enormously committed to sharing the best we had to offer between the US and China, and to furthering the careers of young Chinese artists. I embraced her ideas, and only wished for more time in every season to manage the relationships and projects she fostered. Her knack for strategy was brilliant and creative – she always had more ideas about how I might become involved with the Conservatory, or with China in general, but she was adamant that I needed to follow the appropriate channels.

Every evening I spent with Shirley in either New York or Shanghai would include dinner. I’ll never forget the first time when after enjoying 3 ample courses in the dining room next to her modestly sized kitchen, I was grateful and assumed we would retire to the living room. Oh no. There were 9 more courses! As always, she was gracious and this was only my first lesson from her about Chinese customs. I even imagined that there must be a second kitchen somewhere in the apartment, or how could so many dishes come through that small door? In Shanghai, she invited 3 stars of the historic Chinese opera to sing for me so I could learn about the stories and voices that inhabit this ancient art form. Again, a privilege and delight to experience this history. We are all classical singers.

She arranged the first master class I taught at the Shanghai Conservatory when I heard Shenyang for the first time, who not only possessed an ample and handsome bass-baritone voice, but who possessed an artistic maturity very rare for his age. I also learned that he knew perhaps more about the history of sopranos than I did! It was easy to connect him with Juilliard and the Metropolitan Opera, and watch his career soar, ultimately sharing the stage with him in Handel’s Rodelinda. Shirley was behind all of this, as she was with the development of countless other young artists.

In a time of turmoil around the world; political division here, competition for dwindling resources, climate change, and a pandemic, it is good to remember that one fiercely determined human catalyst such as Shirley Young can do so much good, and show us how to share and work together.

I will miss her and our many dinners and conversations very much.

Renée Fleming
Posted by Judy Sturgis on January 16, 2021
Shirley was an inspiration to all because of her dedication to family, friends and the arts. 
Posted by Jing Li on January 15, 2021
Dear Shirley,

太突然了,太突然了!! 我们无论如何也不能接受这个事实,不能接受,无法相信。

民铎怎么也想不到,在圣诞节中午接到你的电话。你的声音较轻,但发音清晰。我问你情况怎样,你说肝部出现问题,我还是没有感到问题严重。我只说赶快请医生换更合适的药。我们还说了不少高兴的事,最后我说,“我要出去了”。 你说,“你可以弹些东西给我听吗?” 我说,“下次再弹!我稍后面的事赶不上了。” (我没告诉你,在等我的人,家中出了人命关天的事。)


Minduo, Hui Hui, Jing Li, Li Tian and all the students
Posted by Niu Niu on January 15, 2021
Dearest Shirley,
I feel forever grateful toward the love, care and support from you in all these past years.
You have given me precious advices throughout my life and musical journey since youth, and I will always remember the delicious meals at your home as well as the several thanksgiving dinners that we spend together during my years of study in New York, which truly made me immensely warm. The memories with you will remain my most valuable treasure, and your selflessness, dedication and hardworking attitude will always be the motivation in my life.
We all love you, and will always miss you. The deepest condolences from me and my family.
Posted by Amy Wang on January 9, 2021
My earliest memories of Shirley are of the grown-ups at the table - her visits meant dinner time conversation would take on new breadth and depth from topics serious and light-hearted, grave and animated, practical and imaginative, mechanical and artistic, personal and professional. She inspired everyone around her to share in her remarkable ability to connect - people, ideas, continents.

It is rare that a mentor can connect and inspire across generations and cultures, but this is the case with my family. My father first met Shirley at GM. For my father, a first generation immigrant and a new engineer, she was a mentor in how to thrive in the most-American of corporations, and how to use his cultural fluency to his advantage. She encouraged him to forge connections across divisions and departments, and to seek opportunities beyond the standard career path. When vying for what later turned out to be a career-changing promotion, she advocated for him across those same corporate divisional lines, a fact that wasn’t revealed to him until years later.

For me, an American-born Chinese girl growing up in the Midwest, Shirley was proof positive that leadership could have many different forms and faces, all of which could succeed in the ‘boys clubs’ of Madison Avenue and Detroit’s Big 3. At every major junction of my life, whether it was applying to Wellesley, selecting a first job, finding opportunities for community involvement, or applying to graduate school - Shirley offered her guidance, her support and her time. And in following her guidance, I know that my world has expanded to be richer and fuller of connection.

It is difficult to express the full extent of our gratitude for a person who has made such a difference in our lives, and we will be forever humbled and proud to have been part of her connected world. Thank you Shirley, and may you rest in peace.

Amy Wang & family
Dazong, Mary, Andy, Sarah, Sienna Wang and Drew Morales
Posted by Julia Bloch on January 9, 2021
In some of the darkest days in US-China relations, Shirley, your legacy shines through the beautiful music, friendships and bridges you have built between Chinese and Americans. But my fondest remembrances of you will always be of your generosity to friends and strangers alike, and how you connected us all with the wonders of Chinese food. 

Posted by Ed Yim on January 9, 2021
Shirley was always very generous with me as I navigated my way through working closely with our colleagues and artists in Shanghai. She took time to help me understand cultural nuances, often welcomed me to her home for fabulous meals, and reminded me always of how music can create bridges and understanding. She was an inspiration and I will miss sharing stories of music and Andover.
Posted by Megan Noone on January 9, 2021
We are thinking of Shirley and remembering her fondly from here in the West of Ireland. Shirley loved the simple country life, a passion that we as a family bonded with her over. She happily sought to surround herself with rural life - chickens, home grown veggies, walks in wellies and raincoats. She was a woman of wonderful taste, her sense of decor inspired us as she really understood the countryside in her finishing touches. Memories of her cooking and especially her trifle, her generosity (both in time and interest), her parties where we danced Shoe the Donkey and did Irish dancing and all the laughs & stories shared.
Shirley was a constant in our life here - we looked forward to her coming in the summer. “When is Shirley coming home?”, we would say. Safe home, Shirley. With love always, the Noone family.
Posted by Ellen Weinstein on January 9, 2021
Grateful to Shirley Young for believing in the power of the arts to unite, elevate and celebrate what we share as people. Through her passion, energy, wisdom, and service on the Board of National Dance Institute, she brought worlds together, as demonstrated in the video below, children from NYC and Shanghai, dancing "Under One Sky". We love you Shirley, forever.
Posted by Amy Hu on January 9, 2021
Shirley Young was an inspiration to all of us. She helped our family during times of great need, and for that, we are eternally grateful for her. Her legacy of kindness, empathy and hard-work surely will follow her memory. She will be missed greatly by all.

Our sincerest sympathies and condolences. May God continue to bless her family during this difficult time.

Joseph Wu, Jianhua Zhang, Amy Hu, Sam Hu and Yilin Lee
Posted by Martha Liao on January 9, 2021
Our dearest Shirley is our model, our mentor, our advisor and a most caring friend who has influenced our lives in all aspect, especially in the performing arts. Since 1998, we have had numerous music projects with Shirley, from Shanghai to New York. She has attended so many of Tian's opera performances. Other times, we would have dinner together, at her home or at ours, many times serving my Peking duck for Auntie Juliana and Gene. Our most special vacation was with Shirley at her country home in Ireland. In the past ten years, Shirley has been our most important advisor and sponsor in our iSING! International Young Artists Festival. Dear Shirley, we shall miss you forever! With love and admiration, Martha and Tian.
Posted by Xiangqian Ma on January 10, 2021
Shirley Young有个令人羡慕的家,很大很大,人很多很多,我几乎熟悉他们每一张面孔。二十多年来,我们会在Shirley每一张新年贺卡中和他们见面!我会仔细端详画面中每一个人,看看老妈妈有什么变化,孩子们是不是又长大了……

Shirley有个伟大的母亲,我们全家和我的朋友们特别关注她! 90岁—95岁—100岁—105岁—110岁……一年年给大家以惊讶和喜悦!她睿智而慈祥的目光,精神矍铄而宁静安然的神态,已刻入我脑海,她那部《我的109个春天》改变了我对生命和人生的认识,仅“每天都是好日子”这么一句极其简单却寓意无穷的话,就将影响我整个后半生!

Shirley有个很大很大的朋友圈,不同凡响的友人很多很多,其中有伟大的建筑家,杰出的音乐家、艺术家、教育家,举足轻重的政治家、企业家、社会活动家……相比之下,我实在微不足道。然而, Shirley常常对别人介绍说:“这是我的朋友马向前,很了不起! ”, “他非常能干! ” ,“他知道的很多! ”……和Shirley在一起的时候,我真的觉得自己也不错。



杨雪兰——亲爱的Shirley ,望断你远去天国的背影,留给我们绵绵不尽的思念!

2021年1月9日 于北京
Posted by Jing Li on January 9, 2021
Dear Shirley,

When we heard that you are gone, we felt nothing but the sky had fallen, we were surrounded in utter darkness!

All this is too sudden, too sudden!! We still cannot accept this, believe this...
We have been friends for over thirty years, and you never told us about the seriousness of your ailing health. You always kept the hardship to yourself, but as your good friend, how can we bear this?!

On Christmas noon when we received your call, you sounded quieter than normal, but you spoke so clearly. We asked how you were, you said your liver had some problems. I still didn’t grasp the severity of the situation, I recommended you to ask the doctor to change to a more suitable medicine immediately. We also spoke about many happy things. At last, I had to go out. You asked me, “Can you play something for me?” To which I replied, “Next time I will play for you, I’m almost late for my next appointment.” (I didn’t tell you then, the person who was waiting for me also had a life and death situation at home)

Never could I imagine these will be our last words...

Let us dry our tears, let us smile again though it is very hard, for we shall meet again in a brighter, more beautiful and brilliant kingdom!


Minduo, Hui Hui, Jing Li, Li Tian and all of Minduo’s students

Posted by Helen Chen on January 8, 2021
The children from Starry Arts Group Children's Chorus met Shirley during the concert "Wellington Koo the Diplomat - A Life in Song" on September 30, 2019. We thank Shirley for giving us the opportunity to perform in Carnegie Hall. Shirley was so happy to see the children. She patted their shoulders and held their hands, she loved the children's performance. All the children and teachers love her too. Her charming smile and gentle voice will be remembered forever. — From the teachers and children of Starry Arts Group Children’s Chorus
Posted by Jim Cheng on January 7, 2021
Dear Shirley's family:

I always admire Shirley's outstanding intelligence, perfect etiquette, shocking attention to the details and unbelievable energy.  The last time I worked with Shirley closely was in the summer of 2017, when we worked together for the ceremony of completing the first phase of digitizing Wellington Koo Papers and the exhibition of Wellington Koo's outstanding career at Columbia's Beijing Global Center with Ann Thornton, Vice Provost/University Librarian, Sean Quimby, Director of RBML, and Prof. Lydia Liu. I remember it was an extremely hot summer and we got a packed program with many guest speakers, friends, alumnus, and reporters, and Shirley was as energetic, perfectly dressed, paying attention to the details as usual during the event, when I was totally exhausted by heat, jet-lags, noises and too many Peking Ducks in our meals.  It was like yesterday, now Shirley is no longer physically with us, but will live forever in our memory.

Please accept my condolence.

Jim Cheng
C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Columbia University

Posted by John Chen on January 7, 2021
Dear Shirley
Thank you for everything you have done for US-China and C100. You will be greatly missed . Your leadership is so much needed now . Rest in peace

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